Students call out superintendent for plagiarism

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Dr. David A. Fleishman (photo from
Dr. David A. Fleishman (photo from

Dr. David A. Fleishman (photo from

Plagiarism in journalism gets you fired.

In academics, it is supposed to result in a grade of zero.

But what happens when a superintendent is caught plagiarizing a commencement speech by his students?

In Massachusetts, he gets docked a week’s pay, which is a healthy $5,000, after a series of potentially improper school board meetings.

Superintendent David Fleishman was called out in a truly “special edition” of the South Newton High (Massachusetts) student newspaper published June 23. In the newspaper, two graduates who had recently sat through a commencement speech by Fleishman noted phrases borrowed from a commencement speech by Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick.

One of the students had attended Boston University’s commencement and heard Patrick’s speech.

“It is disappointing and disillusioning to imagine we cannot expect the best from the highest ranking Newton Public Schools official, especially on a widely attended day designed to celebrate student achievement and serve as an educational capstone,” the student article said.

When confronted, Fleishman, to his credit, admitted he had heard parts of the speech on the radio and borrowed from it and should have credited the governor. He never admitted to plagiarism, but clearly he should have run his speech through the plagiarism-detecting software his school system uses on student papers.

As the Washington Post story points out, a Massachusetts superintendent caught plagiarizing a speech opted to retire … at the end of the 2015 school year.

Hey, if you can’t cheat when you’re at the top of your profession, when can you cheat?

The correct answer used to be “never.”

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